Brevet Brigadier General Dr. Joseph Lee Bullock Brown
July 1822 – Oct. 21, 1891
Joseph Bullock Brown, son of Rufus and Margaret (Bullock) Brown, was born in Albany July 26, 1822.
His early education was acquired at the Albany Medical College, and he was a graduate from that institution.
In 1845 Brown was appointed physician at Clinton Prison, where he remained three years, and then practiced surgery at Detroit, Michigan one year.
April 20, 1848, he married Catherine R., daughter of Jotham and Selecta Crawford, then of Saratoga Spa. They had four children, the first of whom died in infancy: Alice C. and Louisa M. Brown were born in 1852 in Texas, and Warren C. was born in 1854.
In 1849 he received an appointment as surgeon in the regular army. He was commissioned Assistant Surgeon by President Zachary Taylor in 1850.
In 1854 he served as Assistant Surgeon in the medical department at Fort Mackinac, Mackinac County, Michigan.
During Brown’s service as an Army Surgeon in Indian territory, he was gifted with a Sioux pony beaded and quilled hide tobacco bag by Cut-Mouth John, an Indian scout, who became his servant. He collected this exceptional example in all probability when he was assigned to the Sioux Expedition which departed from Fort Leavenworth (Kansas) in 1855. This was the year in which the U.S. Army first engaged the Lakota. The tobacco bag was sold in June 2003 by Brown’s great-great-grandson, via auction at Christie’s for $65,725.
During the Yakima Indian War (1856-1857) Brown was stationed with Colonel George Wright when Wright assumed command of Fort Dalles, Oregon, in January 1857. In addition to him Assistant Surgeon Joseph B. Brown, Major Lugenbeel, Capt. Fredrick T. Dent, Lieutenants Lyman Bissell and Edwin Harvie, Captain Thomas Jordan, Assistant Quartermaster and Lt. James VanVoast, Regimental Quartermaster and Assistant Commissary of Subsistence were stationed at the post during the month. Fort Dalles was headquarters for a regiment, the main military depot for all goods and supplies destined for soon-to-be Forts Simcoe and Walla Walla to the north and east.
Brown was stationed at Fort Dalles in Oregon Territory from April 1856 to July 1859. Brown took up residence at the fort in the fort’s surgeon’s quarters building, designed by Louis Scholl. The Surgeon’s Quarters, built in 1856, cost a little less than $5,000. The building, in gothic-revival style, is the last remaining structure of Fort Dalles, and is now the home for the Fort Dalles Museum, one of the oldest history museum in the state of Oregon. Brown’s picture hangs with honor in the museum.
Brown was stationed at Fort Steilacoom, Puget Sound, Washington Territory until December 1859.
At the outbreak of the Rebellion he was ordered east and assigned to the Army of the Potomac, then under General McClellan.
He was commissioned Surgeon (Major) by President Lincoln on July 4th, 1861. The Commission was dated July 22, 1861, signed by President Lincoln and also signed by Acting Secretary of War, Thomas Scott (uncommon) and General Lorenze Thomas later in command of Black troops in The Southern Theater. This document was sold for $7,850.00 on The History Shop website: http://www.historicalshop.com
Brown was ultimately assigned as Medical Director – 4th Corps., Army of the Potomac under General Keyes. He served during the entire Peninsular Campaign of Gen. McClellan from Yorktown to Malvern Hill. He authored a four-page report of these actions and the medical care of the wounded in the Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion. Suffering from exposure, he was reassigned duty with the Assistant Surgeon General’s Office St. Louis and then in Louisville, Kentucky.
He served with distinction in a number of Indian campaign, and during the entire civil war.
March 13, 1865 Surgeon Brown was made Lieutenant-Colonels by Brevet for faithful and meritorious services during the war.
Later on he was made chief officer in the surgeon-general’s office in the Army of the Cumberland, and served in that capacity until the close of the war. and Army of the Cumberland
He then was assigned to the hospital at Fort Columbus, New York Harbor at Governor’s Island. Here, he served valiantly after the Civil War treating patients during the cholera epidemic. He was breveted to Lt. Col and then Brig. General “for meritorious service at Fort Columbus, NY, where cholera prevailed.”
Thereafter he was commonly known as General Brown.
After serving for three years at Governor’s Island, Brevet Brigadier General Brown spent six years stationed in Omaha, Nebraska as medical director.
The Brown family was living in Nebraska in 1870 and in 1880 were living in New York.
When not engaged in his regular duties, General Brown devoted himself to the study of the classics or photography, in which he was proficient. As an artist he attained more than passing prominence, and with his other attainments was schooled in scientific work.
During the remaining thirteen years of his active service General Brown was for a time stationed in New York city as president of the Medical Examining Board, and from there went to the Department of the Platte as medical director. He once again was in New York and up to his retirement in 1886, occupied the same responsible position as the president of the Medical Examining Board.
In 1886, then being sixty-four years of age, General Brown was retired from active duty and service.
For a few years following his retirement from the army General Brown resided at Tarrytown-on-the-Hudson, and in 1887 moved to Albion, Orleans County. During the remainder of his life occupied the old Bullock homestead.
During these years of retirement his time had been occupied in historical and scientific studies. In the army General Brown was held in the highest esteem for his exceptional proficiency in his department, and his devotion to his work. Constantly he was selected to occupy the most important positions, and his rare judgment commanded the greatest regard and respect of all who knew him.
In his later years he was considered an invalid most of the time, and prior to his death the newspaper reported he had been ill for some time with gastralgia.
He died Oct. 21, 1891, in Albion, Orleans County, New York. Funeral services were held at Albion on a Saturday morning at 10 o’clock.
He was buried at Mt. Albion Cemetery. The graves of his wife, Catherine R. Crawford Brown, and daughters Alice and Louisa M. Brown are located near his.
Text compiled from a composite of source documents listed below:
—Landmarks of Orleans County, New York, Isaac S. Signor, (pg 14 of 115)
— The Historical Shop, sales of rare collectibles from early Americana to the Civil War .http://www.historicalshop.com/sitecontents/lincoln/lincolnitems.htm
Democrat & Chronicle, Rochester, Monroe, NY , Thurs Oct 22, 1891
— Obituary published New York Times, 22 Oct. 1891; same text published in The Sun, 22 Oct. 1891.
— Department of the Platte, Headquarters Omaha, Nebraska, Brevet Major General C.C. Augur Commanding
—Cemetery record, contributed in March 1997 by: Sharon A. Kerridge, Orleans County Coordinator, NY Gen Web, http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~nyorlean/mtalbb7.htm
— History of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Mackinac County.
— Army and Navy Journal, September 23, 1865.
— Army and Navy Journal, September 9, 1865, p 138.
— Christie’s Auction: A Sioux Pony Beaded and Quilled Hide Tobacco Bag, Lot 151 / Sale 1248, Benson L. Lanford, Ashland, OR, May 6, 2003,
— History of Wasco County, Oregon, Wm. H. McNeal, Chapter 9
— U.S. Census Records, 1870, Nebraska and 1880, New York census records.
— Fort Dalles Museum, 500 W. 15th St., The Dalles, Oregon 97058